nearest and dearest

English edit

Etymology edit

Two women hugging

The adjective sense appears to predate the noun sense.

Pronunciation edit

Adjective edit

nearest and dearest (not comparable)

  1. Closest, most intimate.
    • 1624, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], “Iealousie, His Equivocations, Name, Definition, Extent, Seuerall Kindes, of Princes, Parents, Friends. In Beasts, Men, before Marriage, as Corriuals, or after, as in this Place”, in The Anatomy of Melancholy: [], 2nd edition, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, →OCLC, partition 3, section 3, member 1, subsection 1, pages 465–466:
      Petronius calleth this paſſion [i.e., jealousy] amantium furioſam æmulationem, a furious emulation, and their ſymptomes are well expreſſed by Sr Ieffrey Chaucer in his firſt Canterbury tale. It will make the neareſt & deareſt friends fall out; they will endure al other things to be common, goods, lands, moneyes, participate of all other pleaſures, and take in good part any diſgraces, iniuries in another kind, but as Propertius well deſcribes it in an Elegie of his, in this they will ſuffer nothing, have no corriuals.
    • 1787, “The History of Europe”, in The Annual Register, or A View of the History, Politics, and Literature, for the Years 1784 and 1785, volume XXVII, London: Printed by J[ames] Dodsley, in Pall-Mall, →OCLC, chapter VIII, page 134, column 1:
      It was impoſſible that the queen of France [Marie Antoinette] ſhould not be deeply affected by a conteſt, which ſo cloſely involved her neareſt and deareſt connections, and threatened ſo immediate and perhaps irreparable a breach of the harmony and friendſhip ſubſiſting between them.
    • 1915 April, Annie Besant, “The Servants of India Society”, in Speeches & Writings of Annie Besant, 3rd edition, Madras: G. A. Natesan & Co., published September 1921, →OCLC, page 281:
      In the work that it [the Servants of India Society] will do in the future it will be the spirit of Mr. [Gopal Krishna] Gokhale that will inspire it. So I would remind you that while you raise a statue to his public honour, do not forget what matters more, the hope that ever nestled warmly in his heart, that is nearest and dearest to those who imitate him, throwing away everything of this world and burning upon the altar of their country in sacrifice all that the world could give of joy and wealth, []

Translations edit

Noun edit

nearest and dearest pl (plural only)

  1. (idiomatic) One's closest and most intimate family members, friends, etc.
    • 1819 December 20 (indicated as 1820), Walter Scott, chapter XIII, in Ivanhoe; a Romance. [], volume II, Edinburgh: [] Archibald Constable and Co.; London: Hurst, Robinson, and Co. [], →OCLC, page 220:
      [W]hile all mourned and honoured the dead, thou hast lived to merit our hate and execration—lived to unite thyself with the vile tyrant who murdered thy nearest and dearest []
    • 1885, Percival Lowell, “On Hats”, in Chosön: The Land of the Morning Calm: A Sketch of Korea, Boston, Mass.: Ticknor and Company, →OCLC, page 346:
      Several days passed by, and to all appearance we had quite forgotten our poor old servitor, – so heartless in remembrance is weak humanity to its nearest and dearest, – when, in course of time, it got to be New Year's eve, and we were sitting in our study, awaiting the cook's preparations for dinner, when suddenly we heard a noise as of much tramping.
    • 2014, Helene S. Lundberg, “Preface”, in Scandinavian Christmas Crafts and Recipes, Mechanicsburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books, →ISBN, page 5:
      Christmas is the time to nurture friendships and spend as much time as possible with your nearest and dearest.
    • 2014, Alan Reid, interviewed by Fiona Ritchie, “Homesick Pioneers”, in Fiona Ritchie, Doug Orr, with the assistance of Darcy Orr, Wayfaring Stangers: The Musical Journey from Scotland and Ulster to Appalachia, Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, →ISBN, page 149:
      I think the immigrant, as a rule, clings more to the homeland and to culture and music than the person who's surrounded by it all the time. That would often be the last sight of their homeland, it would be the last sight of their nearest and dearest, and yet, over and above that, they still felt the need to go and try and get a better life, whether it was voluntary and whether they were thrown off their lands or whatever.

Translations edit